Sermon Text: John 14:1-14
May 18, 2014
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. John’s gospel account the 14th chapter.
A. Doubt in the Upper Room
Beloved in the Lord,
It was not the most festive upper room in Jerusalem. Four days earlier Jesus entered Zion to shouts of Hosanna. All looked well then. The rise of Jesus to David’s throne soon would be fulfilled. But then He overturned the tables in the temple. Then the Pharisees tested Him time and again. And time and again Jesus handily dealt with their hypocrisy. All looked well and fine on Sunday. But now it was Thursday evening. The lamb has been sacrificed. The twelve are gathered in a borrowed room. Jesus has washed the disciples’ feet. In a stunning turn of events He’s fulfilled the seder with a New Covenant, one with His blood. There’s been mention of a betrayer. Judas has departed to quickly do what he feels he must do. The mood is no longer festive, but tense. The uncertainties of Friday loom in the background. The authorities are waiting for the most opportune time. Satan and his legions are nearby. All looked well and fine on Sunday. Everyone’s faith was strong . . . so they thought. But now, on Thursday . . . its not the most festive upper room in Jerusalem. Jesus is going to be leaving. Uncertainty, doubt and even despair fill the hearts of the Lord’s twelve. Faith is not so strong. And when faith gets weak, the temptation of the heart is to look for more. Carnal man can’t walk by faith. He feels he must walk by sight. But walking by sight only leads to further uncertainty. For the eyes cannot be trusted, nor can the feelings of the heart. One cannot have faith in what one sees, or feels.
Therefore our Lord speaks to such troubled hearts, be they in the upper room or this room. “You believe in God. Believe also in me.” The savior calls for faith, not sight. Faith is His greatest delight. Faith is the surest way. “Show us the way,” says Thomas. “I am the way and the truth and the Life no one comes to the Father except through me.” replies Jesus. Faith is always fixed on Jesus. Jesus leads us to the Father. If faith is not fixed on Jesus, then its not the right faith and the wrong faith leads away from the Father. The wrong faith leads to hell.
B. The insufficiency of Jesus?
But for many Jesus isn’t enough. Phillip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be sufficient for us.” Having Jesus wasn’t enough for Phillip. Is He enough for you? It is in the midst of trial and tribulation that hearts often seek after more. The heart needs certainty. Without the certainty of God’s love, God’s favor, forgiveness and grace, then doubt, despair and hopelessness torment the soul. The heart needs certainty and when trials and tribulation come upon us we, like Phillip want more than just Jesus.
But we don’t know what we’re saying. Phillip doesn’t know what he’s saying. To want more than Jesus, more than His comforting and faith sustaining Word is the fruit of unbelief. To want more than Jesus in His Word is the nature of carnal man. Carnal man always wants more than he’s been given.
This “wanting of more” is prevalent in our contemporary society. After all, we are all products of a fallen creation. We want suffering to stop. We want temptations to go away. We want our emotions to be like the apostles when Jesus fed the 5000 or when He took with Him Peter, James, and John on the mount of Transfiguration. We want more joy and less suffering, more piety and less absolution, more mission talk and less ministry talk, more things to do and less things to receive. We want more help with our lives, more help with our morals, more help with our promise keeping, ex corde prayers. We want more “biblical principles” for attaining perfect health, debt-free wealth, and better sex in marriage. Why? Because we wrongly believe that these, and whatever else we’re tempted to fasten our hearts to, will give us certainty; certainty that we’ll survive whatever cross we’re bearing, certainty that because we’re being good Christians God will have favor on us, love us more, and spare us the suffering which so many experience today. And all of these are attempts to come to the Father apart from the Way, the Truth, and the Life; apart from Faith; apart from Jesus.
C. Jesus is Enough!
Repent! Recognize and confess these vain attempts for “emotional highs” and “spiritual certainties” for what they are: fruits of unbelief in the Word of Jesus. Repent and open your ears. For the way to the Father is only by Faith. Faith comes by hearing; and not just any hearing, but hearing the message of Christ. Whoever sees Jesus, sees the Father. Whoever hears Jesus hears the Father. Whoever receives Jesus receives the Father. Faith is always fixed on Jesus. Jesus shows you the Father.
This is the great irony of our text. What Phillip and Thomas the rest of the 12 wanted, they already had right there in front of them: Jesus. Jesus is enough, for them and for you! What God has done, is doing, in the person of His Son is sufficient. It is enough for Phillip’s sins, for his doubts, his worries and concerns, for his inadequacies, failures, regrets and all hisuncertainties. And it is enough for you, your sins, doubts, worries, concerns, inadequacies, failures, regrets and all your uncertainties. Jesus is enough to carry weight of your iniquity to the cross. Jesus is enough to bear the wrath of God on account of them. It is enough for Him to suffer under Pontius Pilate, be crucified, dead and buried and to be raised again on the third day.
Carnal man wants more than this because carnal man doesn’t want to live by faith. But faith is what pleases Jesus the most. Faith takes Him at His Word. You believe in God! Believe also in Me. Faith is the surest way. The devil, the world, and our own sinful nature by means of fear and anxiety attempt to frighten us into seeking God in other ways. But to walk in fear is contrary to the Spirit. For “God has not given us a Spirit of timidity and fear, but one of power, and of love and of sound mind.” For the opposite of fear is not courage, but rather faith! Faith clings to the Way of the Father.
B’. The sufficiency of Christ’s Word!
And the Way of the Father is found solely and certainly in His Son and His Word. The Lord would have us bound completely to Jesus and His Word, and to seek God nowhere but in Him. For God has not commanded that you should seek Him in creation. He has not bidden you to climb Jacob’s ladder and gape at what He does in heaven with the angels. No! He cries from the heavens to the earth, “This is my beloved, Son! Listen to Him!” He binds His holy people to Jesus and His Word. In other words, “In Christ Jesus I have come down to you that you may see me, hear me and grasp me in my Son. Here and to no one else all who belong to me and would gladly be free of sins and be saved, will go and find me, only by faith in my Son and His Word.”
Therefore beloved where you hear the gospel or see a person being baptized, the sacrament being handed out or received, or one be absolved there you can boldly say, “Today I have seen God’s Word and work, yes heard God Himself and seen His preaching and His baptism. The tongue, voice, hands, etc., are of men, but the Word and office are actually the divine majesty itself.” This I know to be most certainly true for I have God’s Word and promise. He will not deceive me. He will not lie to me. He is my kind and gracious Father whose promise I cling to even in the face of trial, tribulation, affliction, suffering and death itself. For Christ my Lord has overcome my sin, my death, and my adversary by rising from the Dead on the third day. This is most certainly true
A’. Comfort in a despairing World
Beloved in the Lord, the certainty of God’s Word and Life of His Son is sufficient for us and our salvation. We cannot walk by sight nor by our feelings. These will only compound our uncertainties and lead us away from the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We must be on guard against such thoughts that proceed without the Word, thoughts that long for more than Jesus. We must guard against innovations void of the cross of Christ, theologies, ideologies, philosophies, which nurture carnal man’s image rather than crucifying it. We Christians are this day called to walk by faith. “You believe in God. Believe also in Me. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Walking by faith we are comforted with the Words of Jesus. For world is not so different now than it was then. We may not dwell in the most festive of upper rooms, our world is full of suffering, doubt, and despair. But Jesus, our host, has entered into our midst, girded Himself with servant hood, bowed the knee and cleansed us with Holy Water. He has taken the seder and filled it with His body and His blood. He has given Himself; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, to us and all who believe. We may not dwell in the most festive of upper rooms, but He goes to prepare a place for us in His Father’s mansion. There are many rooms there, enough for you and me. He goes that we may be forever where He is. Therefore, Jesus will be sufficient for us both here in time, and there in eternity. Believe this dear Christian and be certain, be comforted. Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!